WASHINGTON - Before a bipartisan crowd on the White House lawn Monday, US President Joe Biden signed a $1 trillion infrastructure package into law, declaring that the new cash for roads, bridges, seaports, and other infrastructure would improve people's lives.
The administration hopes to use this infrastructure bill to restore his reputation, which has suffered as a result of inflation and the inability to quash the economic impact resulting from government decision-making during COVID-19.
"My message to the American people is this: America is moving again and your life is going to change for the better," he said.
This agreement was a significantly reduced solution compared to his initial infrastructure strategy. However, the White House intends to market the new legislation as a success that bridged partisan divisions and benefit the country with clean drinking water, high-speed internet, and a move away from fossil fuels.
Biden will leave Washington to sell it more broadly in the next few days.
“Folks, too often in Washington, the reason we didn't get things done is because we insisted on getting everything we want. Everything,” Biden said. “With this law, we focused on getting things done. I ran for president because the only way to move our country forward in my view was through compromise and consensus.”
After the infrastructure plan passed on November 5, Biden delayed signing it until legislators could return from a congressional vacation and participate in a dramatic bipartisan event.
The rally on the White House lawn Monday was considerably upbeat, even including a brass band, in contrast to the drama and tension while the fate of the package was in doubt for months. Speakers praised the bill for creating jobs and fulfilling demands of citizens.
To reach agreement, the President was forced to reduce his initial goal of spending $2.3 trillion on infrastructure by more than half. The compromise got the backing of 19 Senate Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and received support from 13 House Republicans.
McConnell said the country “desperately needs” the new infrastructure money, but he skipped Monday’s signing ceremony, telling WHAS radio in Louisville, Kentucky, that he had “other things” to do.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), a Republican who helped to negotiate the package, praised Biden's willingness to jettison much of his initial plan in order to win over GOP lawmakers. Portman credited former President Donald Trump for raising awareness about infrastructure, even though the former President expressed disapproval with the plan.
Biden's focus on bipartisanship on this bill may make it more difficult for further cooperation ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, when he will undoubtedly be forced to pivot back to far more challenging talks over his much larger $1.85 trillion social spending package.
During an interview on Fox News Sunday, Texas Senator Ted Cruz was worried that the infrastructure package might be used as a Trojan Horse amongst Democrats concerned with rising costs.
“They gave Joe Biden a political win," Cruz said of his fellow Republicans. “He will now go across the country touting, look at this big bipartisan win. And that additional momentum, unfortunately, makes it more likely that they whip their Democrats into shape and pass some multitrillion-dollar spending bill on top of this.”
This report has been edited by editors of the Chicago Journal from The Associated Press original.
Chicago Journal Newsletter
Join the newsletter to receive the latest updates in your inbox.